LSU fans and coach Les Miles aren’t the only ones overwhelmed with the number of juniors and third-year sophomores leaping early for the NFL draft.
The NFL’s College Advisory Committee, or the draft advisory board, has developed new guidelines for those considering forfeiting their final year or years of eligibility.
Teams are now restricted to five evaluation requests, though additional players may be evaluated with approval from the committee, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed in an email.
Also, the committee will deliver one of three grades: first round, second round or that the player should remain in school.
LSU has had 17 players leave early for the draft over the past two years. Seven of those were drafted in the first two rounds, and four went undrafted.
Alabama coach Nick Saban broke the new guideline news to reporters at Southeastern Conference media days Thursday, and the NFL confirmed it hours later.
“I just read it before I came over here: five players for junior grades because it’s getting overwhelming for them,” Saban said. “We had 11 last year. A guy is going to get a first-round grade, a second-round grade or a stay-in-school grade. Look, all these players that went out for the draft, that went (in) the draft late, or didn’t get drafted, they were potential draft picks next year. They’re not in the draft next year. They’re not playing college football either.”
The College Advisory Committee’s three-grade system is two fewer than the previous process. The board had informed players of a first, second or third round grade as well as a 4-7 round grade and an undrafted grade.
The amount of early departures in college football has skyrocketed recently. A record 98 underclassmen made the early leap to the draft this year. That number was 56 in the 2011 draft and 74 last year. Of the 98 in 2014, 36 were not drafted.
LSU leads the nation with its 17 early departures over the past two years.
Reporters questioned Miles several times about the trend during the team’s tour through SEC media days Wednesday.
At one stop, he was asked which LSU underclassman would headline next year’s NFL draft.
“I hope nobody!” he said to laughter.